Off-duty Tenn. firefighter dies during storm
Spring Hill Firefighter Mitchell Earwood, 34, died at his home when the storm swept through Middle Tennessee on Sunday
Mike Christen and James Bennett
The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
SPRING HILL, Tenn. — Spring Hill Firefighter Mitchell Earwood died in an incident related to a storm that swept through Middle Tennessee on Sunday evening.
"It is with great sadness that we have to say that today we lost a fellow public safety brother," the Spring Hill Police Department announced on Facebook just before 10 p.m. on Sunday. "Our hearts go out to the Spring Hill Fire Department and the Earwood family."
The department said he was the victim of "a tragic weather-related incident at his home while he was off-duty."
Earwood, 34, served the Spring Hill department for 10 years.
According to local records, Earwood lives on Carter's Creek Station Road in Maury County.
Firefighters, ambulances and state troopers were posted on overpasses above I-65 on Sunday evening as Earwood's body was taken to state medical examiner's office.
"Rest In Peace Brother," the police department said in the final sentence of the post.
Since 2009, Earwood served as a volunteer Firefighter at the Maury County Fire Department. He was a member of the department's Station 11 in the Bethel community in northern Maury County.
Earwood belongs to a family legacy of local volunteer firefighters.
His father, Jerry, the station's district chief, and his stepmother, Linda, serves as a volunteer there.
Earwood also served with the Williamson Rescue Squad, another organization of volunteer Firefighters.
"Please keep this family in your prayers along with Mitchell's close brothers at the Spring Hill Fire Department and Williamson County Rescue Squad," MCFD said in a statement shared Monday morning. "We have lost one of the 'good ones' who had us in tears from the jokes or stories he was always telling. We will truly miss you buddy."
Fellow responders share sympathy
Ty Cobb, the chief of Columbia Fire and Rescue described Earwood as a "true public servant."
"The loss of a firefighter impacts the fire service nationwide," Cobb said. "We train together, work together and develop a bond that lasts forever. We are all one large family, dedicated to serving others and protecting our communities. We will be there for you.
Emergency departments across Middle Tennessee began to mourn the loss of Earwood and celebrate his legacy on Sunday.
The Maury County Office of Emergency Management publicly shared condolences for the fallen Firefighter.
"Our deepest sympathy for our brothers with Spring Hill Fire Department. You will be missed but not forgotten," wrote Jeff Hardy, a former Spring Hill Firefighter who now serves as director of the county's emergency management office.
The Nolensville Fire Department also shared condolences on Sunday.
"Please keep our brothers and sisters at the Spring Hill Fire Department in your thoughts and prayers this evening as they've lost one of their own in the storms," the department said in a statement shared on social media. "SHFD, we love you guys and we're here for anything y'all might need."
Brentwood Fire and Rescue shared sympathies in a statement posed on social media on Sunday.
"In the midst of the storm this evening, tragedy struck our brothers and sisters to the south," the department said.
The department said it has "deployed a crew to Spring Hill to help provide coverage while their personnel begin to deal with this horrible loss."
The Williamson County Rescue Squad celebrated Earwood's dedication as an emergency responder.
"Mitchell served the WCRS proudly as a Tech II and committed many hours as a professional volunteer firefighter with both Station 14 and 23," the squad said. "Mitchell was a dear friend and a true public servant giving his all. He will be sadly missed. Our prayers go out to all his family and friends as we stand with our brothers and sisters of Spring Hill Fire Department."
Storm damages homes, leaves residents without power
The Sunday storm knocked out power, downed trees and scattered outdoor furniture throughout Maury County on Sunday afternoon.
Some fallen trees damaged local homes and automobiles as they came down during the storm.
One tree fell through the roof of a Columbia resident's home.
"Through my roof right on top of me," said Amanda Anderson, who was inside the home when the tree came crashing down.
Winds, estimated to reach 60 miles per hour, and heavy rains resulted in a five-vehicle accident near the Columbia Mall at approximately 4:45 p.m.
A highway sign at the intersection of James Campbell Boulevard and Trotwood Avenue was twisted as if it were made out of tin foil instead of a hard metal.
"We are aware of several outages in the area," said Columbia Power and Water System in a statement posted shortly after the storm. "Crews have been dispatched and are working to restore power. Thank you so much for your patience."
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder took to Twitter following the storm.
"Our first responders— Columbia Police Department, Columbia Fire and Rescue, Columbia Public Works and Columbia Power and Water System are out in full force working hard," Molder said. "Stay safe."
In Spring Hill, trees were reported to have blocked major thoroughfares in the city, according to the local police department.
Both volunteers and members of the public works department were at work clearing the downed trees.
Alderman Keith Hudson stopped and helped clear a fallen tree near Campbell Station Parkway.
"Thank you to SHFD, public works, citizens, and the power companies who helped and are still helping clear scenes," the police department said.
Sunday's power outage caused by the storm is one of the largest on record for the Nashville Electric Service.
More than 130,000 customers were without electricity hours after a storm passed through Middle Tennessee.
©2020 The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.)